Arsenal played a behind closed doors friendly fixture yesterday against QPR. I’m not writing anything derogatory about our fellow London club because otherwise, the very kind man who fixes HH when it goes wrong might just stop being as kind. Lol
The match was a close affair if the scoreline is anything to go by as Arsenal won 3-2. Gabriel Martinelli and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were the standout players for the team in red and white according to Football London. Second year scholars Taylor Foran and Mauro Bandeira we’re involved in the match along with those who hadn’t been called up by their respective countries.
I like the fact that Arsenal are using these international breaks smartly as unless there’s a domestic Cup fixture a lot of the squad players simply aren’t get playing time. Training is all well and good but there’s nothing like 60 minutes or so of competitive football to stay match fit. After all, who knows when any of the current non first team players will be called upon.
Out on international duty are:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Gabon
Folarin Balogun – England under-21s
Sead Kolasinac – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bernd Leno – Germany
Martin Odegaard – Norway
Bukayo Saka – England
Albert Sambi Lokonga – Belgium
Emile Smith Rowe – England under-21s
Takehiro Tomiyasu – Japan
Kieran Tierney – Scotland
Aaron Ramsdale – England
Eddie Nketiah _ England under 21s
Nuno Tavares – Portugal under 21s
Thomas Partey – Ghana
Mohammed Elneny – Egypt
Nichola Pepe – Ivory Coast
The international fixtures kick off tonight with the Under 21 teams in action so from Arsenal that’s Flo Balogun, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares. Portugal v Liechtenstein and Slovenia v England. Sky Sports are showing the England game if anyone is interested.
As said, Gabriel Martinelli played yesterday. So far this season he’s featured four times for the club, twice in the League Cup and twice in the Premier League. His first game, like the rest of the Arsenal team at Brentford, was a disaster. Flo Balogun started the match too. Next up came Chelsea at The Emirates and another soft Arsenal performance. Martinelli played up front but Balogun had to settle for a place on the bench. Next was a trip to The Etihad where Arsenal were torn apart with consummate ease. So much so it was embarrassing. Martinelli made the bench but didn’t come off it. For Balogun, it was pretty much back to the under 23’s although he did get a ten minute run out at the end of the League Cup victory over Wimbledon. If I’ve read the match details right, neither Martinelli or Balogun have featured in any of our League matches in which we won. Nor the Brighton draw.
Like Balogun, Martinelli is 20 years which I know I sometimes lose sight of, probably because when Arsenal first signed the Brazilian, he hit the ground running. And running. He featured in 26 matches during his first season and 22 in his second. In June 2020 he suffered an injury in training and that was him out for several months. Since returning to full fitness, he’s suffered a couple of little injuries but nothing major. Certainly nothing which prevented him from becoming an Olympic Gold winning medalist for Brazil this summer.
I get it, Mikel Arteta is always going to select Aubameyang ahead of our Brazilian if he’s in form but I do wonder why, when our captain simply isn’t involved in a game, Martinelli continues to be rooted to the bench. We know how good he is because we’ve seen him in action before and whilst playing in front of Tierney in what always looked like a strong left side. Martinelli definitely offers more to the team than just being a left sided forward. He defends too, he helps his left back out at any and every given opportunity. In my opinion, Tierney benefits enormously when he has a player like Martinelli ahead of him.
I’m not bashing Mikel Arteta here, nor Aubameyang but sometimes I wonder why when something isn’t working on any given particular day, it’s not changed more often or more quickly.
See you in the comments.